The American Civil Liberties Union of Maine will present the 2012 Roger Baldwin Award to Lance Tapley for his advocacy for prison reform.

"The ACLU of Maine is thrilled to honor Lance for his exceptional work in exposing conditions of confinement at the Maine State Prison," said Shenna Bellows, ACLU of Maine executive director, in announcing the award. "His advocacy became the catalyst for reforms that have helped make the prison safer for both prisoners and guards."

Tapley wrote 50 stories between 2005, when he first interviewed a whistleblower about abuses at the Maine State Prison, and 2009, when legislation to fix solitary confinement suffered defeat. Undeterred, Tapley continued to investigate and write about the problems at the prison and led the Corrections Department to reconsider its practices. His reporting paid off in the spring of 2011, when Corrections Commissioner Joseph Ponte introduced reforms that have dramatically reduced the use of solitary confinement at the prison, reportedly by 70 percent.

"Maine has become a model for other states on solitary reform," says Bellows. "We would not be this far along without the reporting of Lance Tapley."

Tapley is a freelance investigative and political writer for the Portland Phoenix and contributes to many other publications including a recent anthology, The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration & Abuse, published by New York University Press. He also has worked as a political organizer and book publisher and has taught at several Maine colleges.

The ACLU of Maine award is named for Roger Baldwin, an ardent activist for social justice who helped found the American Civil Liberties Union and served as its director until 1950. During his term as director, the ACLU took on many of its most famous cases, including the Scopes "Monkey trial" in Tennessee, where school officials had challenged the teaching of evolution, and the case of Sacco and Vanzetti. Baldwin remained active in the cause of civil rights and civil liberties until his death in 1981 at the age of 97.

The Roger Baldwin Award will be presented at the ACLU of Maine annual meeting, which will be held in Orono at the University of Maine Wells Conference Center on Thursday, October 25, beginning at 6:30 p.m. It is free and open to the public. Reservations are encouraged, but not necessary. For more information, contact Edward Reilly at 774-5444.